By: Tom Beedham (@Tom_Beedham) –
The second night of Wavelength 14 took over Adelaide Hall in Toronto on Valentine’s Day and featured Toronto-based romantic ‘80s-inspired new wave electro soul band DIANA, who released their debut album, Perpetual Surrender, on August 20th, 2013 via Jagjaguwar/Paper Bag Records, Toronto-based electro-shoegaze punk trio Odonis Odonis, who are expected to release their new album, Hard Boiled, Soft Boiled, on April 15th, Toronto-based R&B-inspired garage-pop quartet Weaves, Toronto-based electro-pop duo & Wavelength Artist Incubator band Most People, and Toronto-based interplanetary robot band Matrox.
DIANA @ Adelaide Hall
“We come from here, which is nice,” DIANA frontwoman Carmen Elle told the crowd at Adelaide Hall in earnest on Feb. 14. She went on to explain she finds herself bragging about the city’s music scene when the band is abroad.
DIANA has had some time off from hometown gigs since an extensive international tour bracketing the release of its 2013 debut Perpetual Surrender, so there was no surprise to see plenty of eager faces awaiting the band’s Wavelength performance. The band didn’t come to the festival bearing any new material, and they weren’t without their flaws—a miscued sample fully derailed “That Feeling” mid-song, leading Elle to declare, “This is Y2K, people. This is not an exercise. It is not a drill. Stock up on bottled water,” before they resolved the problem and the band could run through the track from the bridge onwards—but no one seemed irked by it.
Instead, the audience was content to celebrate an album it’s had proper time to process, a sentiment made clear by plenty of listeners caught singing along at any given point during the set. Or maybe—as Elle suggested they do at the show—they just wanted to “get desperately drunk on music. And then puke in the cab on the way home. Musical puking.” But either way, they all seemed confident DIANA would deliver. And they did.
1. “Strange Attraction”
2. “Perpetual Surrender”
4. “That Feeling”
5. [Instrumental interlude]
6. “Foreign Installation”
7. “New House”
8. “Born Again”
Odonis Odonis @ Adelaide Hall
Following Weaves was another pick from the Buzz Records stable, Odonis Odonis.
Although they played without the projections usually supplied by bandleader Dean Tzenos, it’s not exactly as if the audiences at Odonis Odonis gigs are starved for stimulation in the first place. If the collided influences of post-punk, shoegaze, surf, and industrial aren’t enough for you to wrap your head around at a Odonis Odonis gig, there’s always the thick and sludgy layer of fuzz it’s all filtered through— albeit this time that grime was more like a Vaseline smear, and not to the performance’s detriment.
The band used the opportunity to play through some of the picks from their forthcoming follow-up to 2011’s Hollandaze LP, Hard Boiled, Soft Boiled (due April 15), and if the production quality of this gig should serve as any indication of what that might sound like, it’s going to be a hell of a release.
Weaves @ Adelaide Hall
Having released just four songs so far, Buzz Records rookie act Weaves are already gaining attention for their singular live gigs. Their WL14 performance was no exception.
Forced to take the stage without drummer Spencer Cole, the remaining trio of singer Jasmyn Burke, guitarist Morgan Waters, and bassist Zach Bines was forced to tie together the loose ends with a drum sampler, but the playful improvising that was conducive to made it all the more interesting to watch go down.
For those that don’t know, Weaves is a psychedelically bubbling bog of a band that makes impressionistic sound paintings out of what some might call songs. As far as their singles are concerned, “Motorcycle” is a gasoline chugging journey into the sunset; on “Hulahoop” Waters keeps Burke’s wavering vocals in orbit with strategically leaned noise flourishes, and like all too many failed attempts at hoop records, it comes to an abrupt and screaming halt when Burke and Waters get out of synch.
They brought four new songs—“Buttercup,” “Sunshine Road,” “Candy,” and “Know About It”—to Adelaide Hall, so expect more recordings in the near future.
3. “Sunshine Road”
5. “Know About It”
6. “Take A Dip”
Most People @ Adelaide Hall
The heavier take on the older material could have had something to do with a new direction the band is pursuing for a future release. Most People revealed two new songs to the Wavelength audience, one of them a darker new wave listening experience for which Gibson-DeGroote requested the audience recall the opening scene of the film that heavily inspired it, The Terminator.
But as the band’s live development of its older material suggests, it’s fallible to assume that the substance of one performance will be ultimately defined by another. We’ll simply have to wait for a new release and judge that on its own merit.
Matrox @ Adelaide Hall
The conceit Matrox offers at once in lieu of a “proper” band biography and in favour of a successful PR mythos is entertaining to digest: it is (or perhaps was) composed of robots sent from another planet (Planet Matrox, of course) to colonize the people of Earth. Whether or not they intend to stay the course on that mission is less apparent; they seem to like the local colour, taking to Toronto’s local independent music scene to give scheduled concert performances.
Of course, the reality of the situation is that this is a synth-oriented trio composed of entirely human members, counting Alt Altman (Digits) among them. And when the group played Adelaide Hall for WL14, the suspension of disbelief Matrox requested was less simply maintained.
Although Matrox wandered onto the stage fully clad in its homemade robot gear and the mystique that comes with it, the opening of its performance was marred by a technical difficulty that ultimately forced the band to remove its helmets out of desperation to fix the glitch, fiddling with things like patch cords in a way that was all too human.
While the setback was temporary—resulting in a five-minute set delay—and the performance that followed was as stimulating as some of the showcases the group has already gigged at (All Toronto’s Parties, Long Winter, etc.), it also forced the audience to absorb another, entirely different, truth: this is a Toronto band mimicking a colonization outfit that is seeking to adopt the local culture as its own, absorbing attention at concerts first and foremost for its token “alien” idiosyncrasies. Everything from Matrox’s instruments—an arsenal of Korg and Behringer synths, a saxophone, and sound samples of revving motorcar engines—to its tendency to position itself onstage in a line à la Kraftwerk, is a farcical appropriation, and overall Matrox’s set showedpeople who this group is more than just robot rock.